What Nutritional Guidelines Best Serve Mental Health Recovery?

raw food and dumbbells

Mental health is comprised of several components – treatment, exercise, proper support, nutrition, and more. What we place into our body can have a significant impact on the way our body processes information and the energy that we maintain throughout each day. According to the International Mental Health Collaborating Network, approximately two thirds of people who do not report mental illness eat fresh fruit or fruit juice each day, compared to those who report mental illness eating fewer healthy foods such as chips, chocolate, fast food meals and frozen dinners. Harvard Health states that this makes sense, because 95% of our serotonin (the neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, appetite, moods, and pain) is produced in our gastrointestinal tract, which is lined with a million nerve cells. What we eat directly affects these cells, ultimately affecting our mood and well-being.

There are several healthy ways that we can ensure a nutritious diet that will serve our mind and body in the most wonderful ways:

  • Incorporate folate into your diet. Folate consists of folic acid and vitamin B12, and assists with the production of cells. Specifically, folate develops better hair, skin, nails, eyes, liver, and red blood cell production. Foods such as kale, spinach, fruits, nuts, beans and whole grains have adequate amounts of folic acid.
  • Consume vitamin D. According to Mental Health America, rates of depression are higher in those with a vitamin D deficiency. This deficiency is said to contribute to “seasonal depression” which many people experience in the fall/winter months. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium for strong teeth and bones, and assists with the health of the muscles and immune system. Spending about 5 to 30 minutes in the sun at least twice a week generally produces a healthy amount of Vitamin D. While many foods do not readily contain vitamin D, it has been added in several such as milk, orange juice, and breakfast cereals.
  • Get plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids. These have been shown to help people with depression, mood stabilizing, ADHD, and more. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to assist with inflammation and play a significant role in heart health. Oily fish, such as salmon, trout, anchovies, and sardines are the most recommended sources of Omega-3. They can also be found in eggs, walnuts, flax seed oil, olive oil, fresh basil, and dark green leafy vegetables.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water helps your body to stay refreshed and rejuvenated. Overall, water helps us control our calorie intake, helps keep the body balanced, helps energize our muscles, and keeps our skin looking great.

These are a few small but very effective ways to enhance our nutritional diet. By making sure that we take these each day, we are instilling the power and energy needed in our bodies to recover and live a healthy, balanced life.


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